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  • Writer's pictureSport England

Long-term increase in activity levels is positive but further action needed to tackle inequalities

Two million more adults have gotten active since 2015/2016 despite the impact of COVID-19 and the cost of living.



There are two million more adults getting active regularly through sports and physical activity than in 2016, despite the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and increased cost of living pressures. 


What is the Active Lives Adult Survey?



The new figures, which we’ve published today in our latest Active Lives Adult Survey report, show that between November 2022 and November 2023, 63.4% of the adult population met the Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines of doing 150 minutes, or more, of moderate-intensity physical activity a week. That’s equivalent to 29.5 million adults in England playing sport or taking part in physical activity every week. 



This figure is largely unchanged from 12 months ago when 63.1% were active but means that, compared to when we first ran the survey between November 2015 and November 2016, there are two million more active adults – an increase of 1.3%.


The number of people classed as inactive – averaging fewer than 30 minutes a week – has remained steady over the last year and 25.7% of the population (11.9m) are in this category compared to 25.8% 12 months ago. 


Key findings


Our Active Lives Adult Survey Report also gives us a detailed understanding of the factors that influence how likely a person is to be active.   


A person’s age, sex, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic group, whether they have a disability or long-term health condition and the place they live in are all significant factors impacting our relationship with sport and physical activity. 


The report underlines that many longstanding inequalities remain, with women, those from lower socio-economic groups and Black and Asian people still less likely to be active than others. 


It’s why we've put tackling these inequalities at the heart of our Uniting the Movement strategy and, next week, we’ll be announcing details of our new £160m Movement Fund – which will replace many smaller programmes including our Small Grants and Active Together funds, making our funding easier to access than ever before and ensuring our investment is targeted where it can make the biggest difference.  


The report also shows that where you live impacts how likely you are to be active, with those living in more deprived places less likely to be active than those in less deprived places, from a high of 79% active in Brighton and Hove to a low of just 49% active in Barking and Dagenham. 

This is why we’re investing £250m in local communities with higher levels of deprivation across England.


Where we have piloted this approach, the places we have worked have outperformed expectations, with activity levels growing more rapidly than other comparable areas of a similar demographic.


We’re now expanding this approach to 80-100 new areas where we think we can make the biggest difference. 


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